Sunday, February 15, 2015 – There aren’t many rock bands nowadays who invite their parents out on the road with them, incorporate the accordion into their standard repertoire, or dare to cover hallowed Beatles tunes.
Then again, most rock bands aren’t KONGOS.
A literal band of brothers, KONGOS are currently in the midst of their first national headline tour. Not only has this accordion-heavy rock band invited their parents out to join them in their current leg, but they have also performed a mean, beautiful version of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” at every show! While these may not seem like tricky feats individually, the success of accomplishing all three whilst also selling out venues across the country is certainly praiseworthy.
Last night, the on-the-rise South African-born, Arizona-based foursome brought their headline show to New York City, selling out the 1,025-person capacity Irving Plaza with support from Atwood favorites Sir Sly and openers Colony House – and on a Sunday night, no less! The show was KONGOS’ first concert appearance in NYC in over a year, but considering the evening’s heavy turnout, it was well worth the wait.
Since KONGOS last played NYC at an industry-heavy Mercury Lounge show last February, they have received critical acclaim for their sophomore album Lunatic, which was released independently by Tokoloshe in 2012 and then rereleased in 2014 via Epic Records. The band’s song “Come With Me Now” had notable honor of climbing to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart in only 10 weeks – the quickest climb to the top position in over ten years!
Listen: “Come With Me Now” – KONGOS
This being KONGOS’ first headline tour, the band pulled out all the stops in customizing their set. The staging was uniquely geared towards KONGOS’ all-for-one mentality: The four brothers played side by side, and though the spotlight often fell upon one member, the band maintained a constant sense of togetherness seldom found in a rock act.
KONGOS started the night off right with “Hey I Don’t Know,” a 1970s funk-inspired jam featuring bouncing keys and a grooving slide guitar solo. The driving introductory tune had the packed house clapping along by the third verse, and before the song’s end, KONGOS had already dove fully into and out of a raucous instrumental jam.
Listen: “I Want to Know” – KONGOS
In short, the band could not have found a better way to start their show. The concert continued with “Sex on the Radio” and “Kids These Days,” the latter of which featured another roaring guitar solo from axe-wielder Danny Kongos that rose in intensity and tension to a climax that found resolution with a quiet, harmony-laden a cappella interlude. KONGOS employed this stealthy emotional manipulation through melodic and dynamic juxtaposition throughout their performance, leading to a consistent stream of cheers from the audience.
While they threw in a few new songs, one older tune and a Beatles cover, KONGOS mostly stuck to playing songs off Lunatic. Their musical performance blended the lines between reggae, modern and classic rock, pop, funk and folk into complete obscurity. The Kongos brothers ended their set on a high note, finishing off with renditions of the chart-topping “Come With Me Now” and Atwood feature track “I’m Only Joking” powerful enough to shake the whole venue and set to eye-popping visual displays. “I’m Only Joking,” played as an encore, featured a particularly noteworthy visual effect in the form of a circular puff of smoke emitted from a smoke machine behind the band – a nice touch that complemented the song’s intense lyrics:
I’m only joking
I don’t believe a thing I said
What are you smoking
I’m just fucking with your head
Only a crazy
Little thing I read
Don’t miss KONGOS’ killer headlining show! This is one rock concert you definitely do not want to miss!
Listen: “I’m Only Joking” – KONGOS
2015 TOUR DATES (with Sir Sly)
*without Colony House
2/17 Portland, ME State Theatre
2/18 Boston, MA House of Blues *
2/20 Toronto, ON, CA Danforth Music Hall
2/21 Montreal, QC, CA Metropolis
2/23 Clifton Park, NY Upstate Concert Hall
2/24 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
2/25 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
2/27 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works
2/28 Louisville, KY Mercury Ballroom
3/1 Milwaukee, WI The Rave
3/2 Columbia, MO The Blue Note *
3/4 Colorado Springs, CO The Black Sheep
3/5 Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
3/7 Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
3/9 San Diego, CA House of Blues
3/10 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
3/12 Riverside, CA Riverside Municipal Auditorium
3/13 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern